Mobile Devices

Chinese 5G subscriptions to reach 739 million by 2025

31 March 2021

After an aggressive deployment of 5G technology, China’s 5G subscribers is forecast to reach 739 million by 2025, accounting for up to 40% of the world market share, according to new data from ABI Research.

Annual mobile data consumption will also accelerate in China to reach 782 exabytes by 2025, which will be a nearly 60% share of the world’s total 5G data consumption.

"Unlike other early adopters, such as South Korea, the United States, Finland, Japan and many others, mobile network operators (MNOs) in China are owned by the government, which allow them to receive extensive support for developing the 5G networks especially in the consumer market," said Jiancao Hou, senior analyst for 5G and mobile network infrastructure at ABI Research. "From a spectrum perspective, the MNOs received 5G spectrum licenses for tests and trials in 2018, giving them the great opportunity to plan the best network deployment strategies and be ready for the 5G commercial launch in the following year."

ABI said that the current trade war and the ban of Chinese domestic vendors in the U.S. is not slowing down 5G in China given the country’s momentum in 5G deployment.

A total of 690,000 5G base stations in total have been deployed and terminal connections have reached more than 160 million. State run MNOs China Unicom and China Telecom are deploying standalone (SA) 5G RAN infrastructure and sharing radio frequency resources. China Mobile is supporting a dual-mode solution— both SA and non-standalone (NSA) — to support international roaming and collaboration with the China Broadcasting Network.

Indoor network deployment is also continuing in China with small cell technology being used to improve capacity and coverage of networks for the mid- and high-band 5G spectrum.

“There is no clear strategy guideline for promoting local licensed spectrum access or unlicensed and shared spectrum use in the Chinese telco market at the current stage,” Hou said. “Considering the comprehensive fiber deployment across the whole country, fixed wireless access and mmWave deployment may receive limited attention, except for traffic offloading in hotspots.”

Additionally, the ban of Chinese vendors from the U.S. and other countries may stimulate the revival of the domestic supply chain in the Chinese market, drawing much interest in the country.

The full research can be found in ABI’s 5G in China report.

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